TL;DR – Go buy Asics and H-Two-O now.
Singapore marathoner Soh Rui Yong defended his gold medal in the recent SEA Games.
He was able to keep his cool and get the job done even though the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) was giving him grief. Just a few days before his race, SNOC took issues with Soh for sharing posts on his Facebook page where he thanked his sponsors Asics and H-Two-O, which are not sponsors of the SNOC and the 29th SEA Games.
According to SNOC rules, Singapore athletes are prohibited from promoting their personal sponsors on their social media platforms during a blackout period. To be fair to SNOC, this rule was adopted from rules by the International Olympic Council (IOC).
(Read more about ‘ambush marketing’ here. The term refers to attempts made by brands which are not official sponsors to associate themselves with an international event.)
Rule makes it difficult for athletes
That said, this rule makes it difficult for Singaporean sportsmen. Take a sportsmen like Soh for example. He’s not fully funded by the Singapore government. The costs of training in Singapore are high. It’s not easy for him to keep training and maintain the standards needed to compete at the international level. For example, Soh had to take no-pay leave since May to train full-time for the SEA Games.
Sponsors help him meet the costs. If he can’t share posts promoting his sponsors, then it indirectly affects his ability to train and compete. Soh said:
“It’s just difficult to give your sponsors enough bang for their buck when there’s a whole month you can’t mention them. They (SNOC) said ‘it’s only one month’ but it’s the one month where you have the most social media interaction with your fans… it really hurts the value of sponsorship.”
Soh asserted that most of the athletes winning medals for Singapore have parents who are financially able to support their full-time training. They are not making any money out of the sport. If that’s true, then it’s not a good state we want our sports to be in. Soh pointed out:
“It can’t be just the rich kids in Singapore who can do full-time training and be competitive at the high level.”
We need to do right by our athletes
If SNOC wants to have such rules on sponsorships, then it should really think about how Singaporean athletes can be properly supported financially. We can’t have our cake and eat it, expecting our athletes to bear the financial burden personally. They already sacrifice enough in the service of our nation with the amount of time and effort they put in during training, just so as to win glory for the country.
P.S. This post isn’t sponsored by Asics or H-Two-O.